Jelena Dokic was forced to fight off a strong challenge from Russiaâ€™s Anastasia Myskina before advancing to the second round of the $585,000 WTA event here on Tuesday.
The fifth-seeded Yugoslav won 6-3, 0-6, 6-2, but admitted she had found it difficult to maintain her concentration in the cold and damp conditions.
â€œIt is cold and the balls get a lot slower and heavier, and you really need to get used to it,â€ said Dokic. â€œThere are so many things to think about when itâ€™s cold and I definitely lost my concentration in the second set. Usually I have trouble adjusting, but I did that well in the end.â€
Myskina, who has stretched both Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati to three sets in recent weeks, rallied on equal terms from the baseline, and was quick to exploit her opponentâ€™s lapses.
Even so, Myskina had a let-down of her own in the first set, earning just one point in the final three games. But instead of bearing down on her opponent in the second set, careless play from Dokic allowed Myskina back into the match.
It was not until late in the final set that Dokic finally gained control once more.
Although she prefers faster surfaces, Dokic gained her first career title last year at the Italian Open in Rome. But, expecting to build on that success with a good run at Roland Garros, she slumped out in the third round to Petra Mandula.
This year she has adjusted her schedule to play more events before arriving in Paris.
â€œI did well last year and then had a let-down at Roland Garros. I was really down after that, so my goal is not so much the tournaments before but the French Open,â€ Dokic revealed.
â€œI want to get further than I did last year. I always had a problem deciding whether I should play the week before (Paris) or not. Last year I decided not to do that and I think that was a mistake.â€
In other opening day matches, Francesca Schiavone earned a meeting with top seed and defending champion Venus Williams by overwhelming Iroda Tulyaganova 6-0, 6-1, Barbara Schett beat Martina Sucha 7-5, 6-4, Magui Serna defeated Tatiana Panova 7-5, 6-1, and former champion Conchita Martinez dismissed Marlene Weingartner 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.